Interview with Joanna Toborowicz, Purchasing Specialist at Promar

- Jo, you are an expert at our company in acquiring all-natural products. Where did the idea to focus on Polish herbs and dehydrated foods come from?

- I wouldn't exaggerate with the expert part. I simply learn every day and the knowledge I gain is so exciting that I have no choice but to acquire new information.
There are many suppliers of spices, herbs, and dehydrated vegetables on the Polish market, offering goods of various quality. The problem is that the vast majority of these herbs are imported from North Africa or Asia, and these are not as good as those grown in Poland. Interestingly, herbs from the Orient are brought to Poland, and the same herbs from Poland go west! Why? Because although we associate herbs and spices with the Orient, those grown in Poland are more aromatic, they have a stronger taste and prettier color. This is of paramount importance in the process of creating taste, which we do every day. Polish herbs are also safer. That is why we have found that this is the right direction.

 - What do you mean by them being safer?

- Today's food industry faces many food safety issues. These include, among others, microbiological parameters, the danger of food contamination with pesticides, and increasingly important information to consumers on the possibility of specific food allergens in food products.
Throughout the years of cooperating with suppliers from around the world, analyzing the products they provide, auditing their factories and supply chains, we have learned that these threats are very difficult to control by importing natural products from afar. There are many reasons, from cultural (different perception of the need to comply with quality or hygiene standards), through the organization of the agricultural market, to the temptation to falsify products, for example, with admixtures of other similar plants. In Poland, the market is increasingly organized into producer groups that observe the standards, and good dehydration facilities supplying products mainly to Western Europe are also paying more and more attention to these issues.

 - Okay, so we have better taste and greater food safety. Are there any other benefits of Polish herbs?

- Of course there are! We don't have to look far, it’s enough to look at the economy of production. Due to the better taste, you can use less of these herbs to achieve a better taste and appearance of the product. Many of our customers have already discovered this.
We can also further improve product safety because a better conventional (non-sterilized) raw material means a better product sterilized under the Propuro brand – microbiologically cleaner and still having a distinctive taste. This is not just a theory, which can certainly be confirmed by Dominik Gawłowicz-Cebula, whom you interviewed recently.
Ah, and one more important thing. Herb cultivation in Poland is a tradition dating back several centuries. These ingredients were commonly used in dishes by our grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and great-great-grandmothers, and they also used them for medicinal purposes. I encourage searching for information on this subject on the Internet – it's very interesting. 

- Let's go back for a moment to the manufacturer and dehydrating facility groups you mentioned. Are they our suppliers?

- I can't say too much not to reveal trade secrets, but that's the way it is. We have established close cooperation with several selected partners from both these groups. Due to audits carried out at these suppliers and our own laboratory tests, we know that our requirements regarding food quality and safety are being observed.
- As I mentioned, most herbs from good Polish dehydrating plants have so far been taken to the Western European market. Recognized German or Dutch companies dealing in the sale of spices to the food industry even advertise the country of origin of these herbs, because they know that herbs imported from North Africa cannot compare with those from Poland. Interestingly, many food companies in Poland buy high-quality herbs from reputable Western suppliers without knowing that they came from Poland before that. Now they have us.

- In approaching the end of our interview, I wanted to ask you precisely what Polish herbs and dehydrated foods are our main advantages.

- I was waiting for this question. So as not to dwell on the topic, I will mention only a few of the most important ones: parsley, savory, thyme, chives, and dill. More will join soon, but it's still a secret.

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Joanna Toborowicz, Purchasing Specialist at Promar
Joanna Toborowicz, Purchasing Specialist at Promar